The Quora Consulting Report, commissioned by Regus - the world’s largest provider of flexible workplaces - and authored by Mr. John Blackwell startlingly reveals that executives largely place their bet on research when it comes to long-term planning and strategic decision-making. 82% of the business professionals surveyed rely more on study data and findings for identifying historical trends and predicting future outcomes!

It further states that a disappointing 19% business leaders use proven analytics to take a retrospective view of past patterns and practices, with a meagre 6% being adept at using analytical information to determine the future direction and way forward plans. The results of the study were obtained after analysing a decade of in-depth interviews and conducting surveys among 25,000 people - including over 2,750 executives from India - hired in the past two years in a wide range of industry sectors and organisational size, from across all geographic regions like UK, USA, Asia, Europe, Africa, Middle East, etc.

Yet, the importance of analysing, inspecting and transforming data so as to glean useful information, draw conclusions and gain the right perspective when both identifying historical patterns and developing future scenarios, cannot be overlooked.

Lack of analytical insight coupled with ‘heavy reliance on someone else’s imagined future’ directly impacts an organisation’s ability to grow and remain competitive.

Mr. Srinivas Chari, CMO and co-founder, Xerago, a marketing solutions provider, explains the distinction between analytics and research, “While market research helps you monitor customer perception, analytics helps tap into actual behaviour patterns. Market research usually involves segmenting audience into sample clusters, administering a questionnaire, documenting results thus generating data.

On the other hand analytics involves using vast transaction data, organising them, identifying patterns to form segments and deriving insights.”

Mr. Sathyakam Mohanty, Director, Ma Foi Analytics & Business Services Pvt. Ltd. further elaborates, “Analytics are stable and can be predictive because they use all available data, and not just a sample, and more importantly can be validated for stability and accuracy on real, live data.”

Mr. Aditya Khandekar, Head Analytics, Fiserv India concurs, “Analytics can help in synthesising data into nuggets of insights which support or challenge existing paradigms or hypothesis. The advent of large scale analytics computing (software and hardware) on pay-per-use model has made such analysis more accessible across verticals and affordable for large and small business to take advantage of it.”

Striking the right balance

Future business strategies and investments need a heady mix of market research and analytics to make sound decisions – this is what will make business intelligence a powerful tool to help companies grow. And experienced business leaders couldn’t agree more.

Mr. Chari observes, “Market research data and analytics have to be complimentary to each other and needs to work hand in hand to help make strategic decisions with a larger dependency on analytics.”

Mr. Khandekar agrees, “In all executive and strategic decision making, a combination of common sense, human intuition and machine learning based data analytics can play a powerful role in taking a calculated risk for the future.

All three are important, not one at the expense of other.” But he still cautions, “It’s also important to ground any analytics to ‘reality’ using business constraints or common sense test!”

Mr. Mohanty further stresses, “There is an importance to all forms of information and insight – traditional market research helps understand what drives consumers, desk research helps understand market, competitive and macro-economic dynamics, data mining and analytics help identify stable, predictive patterns, and finally experience helps corner all these insights into real world application. The challenge that executives will have to address to get there will be an appreciation of what disciplines to call upon for insights, separately or even jointly, in which business scenario.”

Founder and CEO of Apnacircle.com, Yogesh Bansal concludes, “No research alone can help you take a decision unless its conclusion/findings/numbers are analysed well. I think for me, a good research means a good study of the numbers/findings which results in a better understanding of your users. That accompanied with your ability to foresee is what helps you take the right decision.”

Payal Chanania

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